Health

Healthy Christmas – Healthy weight!

One of the dominant images of Christmas is food. The mention of Christmas brings to mind Christmas lunch, Christmas dinner, work Christmas functions, Christmas drinks and other Christmas get-togethers.
Christmas is not seen as a good time for anyone on a diet. It doesn’t matter if you are on a diet to lose weight, be healthy or deal with a disease, the range of food available at Christmas is intimidating for dieters.
However, Christmas need not mean the end of your diet or a struggle through January to compensate. There are ways to keep your diet healthy during the Christmas season.
Moderation
Keeping things in moderation is a major key to the Christmas overeating issue. It is easy to say “eat and drink in moderation”, but not quite so easy to carry out so here are some ideas for moderating what you eat this festive season.
Use a smaller plate – your mind will consider it a full plate regardless of its size!
Where there are choices, take a little of many things rather than lots of one thing. This ensures you are getting a balanced meal and not overloading on a fatty or high carbohydrate food.
For every glass of alcohol or soft drink, have a glass of water. Water fills you up, has no calories or side effects, is cheap and will help wash out the excesses.
Help clear the table as soon as everyone finished eating rather than sitting and picking at leftovers.
Make your own mixed drinks with real fruit juice instead of canned drinks.
Don’t be afraid to take things home for later – especially fruit cake as it will keep for ages!
Only put out some of the available food so people don’t over serve themselves. More can always come out as required.
Alternatives
Whenever you have control over the food on offer, always look for the healthier alternative to prepare and serve. Likewise, make suggestions to other people who will be feeding you over the holiday period.
This is a good opportunity to make Christmas a bit different this year, for instance, try a picnic this year with lots of salads rather than huge roasts or do an activity with friends instead of having a Christmas drinks night.
Some ways to reduce the fat content and increase the nutritional value of Christmas foods are listed below. Which ones apply will depend on the style of occasion you are cooking for.
Keep vegetables as close to raw as possible. Don’t overcook them.
Consider a salad rather than baked-in-fat vegetables.
Use spices and herbs to flavour vegetables, not butter or a creamy sauce.
Steam vegetables rather than boiling them – healthier and tastier!
Consider a spicy potato salad instead of a mayonnaise based potato salad. Better yet, avoid potatoes and choose a green salad.
Avoid bacon crisps and salami in salads.
Char grilled vegetables are delicious and a little exotic ~ a platter of mixed grilled vegetables look great and can be done on the BBQ to save kitchen space.
Baked potatoes can be topped with yoghurt or low fat cream cheese or low fat sour cream instead of butter.
Salad dressings can liven up a salad without adding kilojoules. Try lemon or lime juice, vinegar (many types!) and fresh herbs.
Meat
Trim as much fat as possible from meat before cooking
Serve some fresh fish or seafood instead of roast red meat.
Baste meats with lemon juice (alone or mixed with garlic and herbs.)
Where possible, BBQ or grill the meat instead of roasting it, or roast it on a rack.
If cooking roast pork, remove all rind and fat prior to cooking. Trimmed of fat, the crackling can be cooked separately – although crackling isn’t particularly good for you anyway!
Desserts
Supply a fruit platter or fresh fruit salad ~ a hot Christmas day makes this most appealing!
Leave behind the crust of deserts such as cheesecake and flans.
Have some fun with a sweet fondue sauce or a yoghurt dip with fresh fruit.
Fruit mixed with yoghurt and frozen is a delicious treat. Drizzle it with chocolate and no one will know it’s healthy!
Sorbets are a light finish to any meal or can be served at Christmas drinks. Choose a recipe without much sugar in it, though.
Make a cake with pureed fruit in place of some oil or butter ~ yummy!
Instead of one egg, try using two egg whites.
Use fresh fruit to top pavlovas and cheesecakes rather than chocolate or meringue.
Odds and Ends
Use wholegrain breads for stuffing.
Cook stuffing separate to the meat so it doesn’t soak up fats during cooking.
Buy a low fat ready-made gravy to be healthier and reduce the number of jobs to be done on the day!
For a creamy texture without using sour cream, cream, buttermilk, eggs, etc, try some pureed tofu. It takes up other flavours really well but without the fat content. (Use the same amount of pureed tofu as any liquid ingredient or 5 Tablespoons per egg. If baking look for the baking varieties of soft tofu.)
Instead of a bowl of lollies or chocolates for guests, why not have a bowl of cherries or grapes?
Bake some pita bread to use with dips instead of chips. Add vegetable strips to the platter for variety.

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